Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
Text Size

Health News

Alcoholics Overestimate Their Ability to Recall Things: Study

Alcoholics Overestimate Their Ability to Recall Things: Study


FRIDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Alcoholics are unaware of their memory problems and overestimate their memory capacities, a new study finds.

French researchers investigated episodic and metamemory in alcoholics. Their findings are published online and in the November print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"In this study, we investigated episodic memory, which is the memory system in charge of the encoding, storage and retrieval of personally experienced events, and which is known to be impaired in chronic alcoholism," study corresponding author Anne-Pascale Le Berre, a doctoral student in neuropsychology at the Universite de Caen/Basse-Normandie in France, said in a journal news release.

The researchers also tested metamemory, which is "knowledge [that] enables us to adapt to our behavior in everyday life and to use our memory skills as efficiently as possible," Le Berre explained.

"Metamemory can refer to the knowledge someone has about memory processing in general, and their own memory functioning in particular. For example, if someone often forgets to buy things in the supermarket, he or she can write down a shopping list. This knowledge enables people to anticipate and implement appropriate strategies when performing a memory task. Metamemory can also refer to activity during a memory task. For example, a student first studies for an exam, and then evaluates his or her level of knowledge. If confident, he or she can stop studying, but if not, they can study more or adjust their learning strategy," Le Berre said in the news release.

The study included 28 alcoholic patients and 28 non-alcoholic participants. Their metamemory was assessed using a "feeling-of-knowing" measure, which compares a person's predictions about future memory performance during a memory task and actual performance. The participants also completed a Metamemory in Adulthood questionnaire. In addition, their episodic memory and executive functioning were evaluated.

"Regarding the [feeling-of-knowing] measure, alcoholic patients did not predict accurately their future memory performance," Le Berre said. "They had a tendency to overestimate their memory capacities, believing themselves capable of recognizing the correct word when in fact they subsequently failed to do so."

And despite their well-established episodic memory problems, the alcoholic participants mistakenly believed their memory was as effective as the non-alcoholic participants, the investigators found.

"This overestimation of episodic memory abilities in alcoholics has unquestionable clinical implications," said Le Berre in the news release. "For example, after being physically weaned off alcohol, patients suffering from chronic alcoholism often undergo cognitive-behavioral treatment involving methods during which they are taught to anticipate risky situations, that is, situations with a high risk of relapse."

However, she added, "if . . . they overestimate their memory abilities, they will benefit only partially from their clinical treatment, since they will labor under the illusion that they have sufficiently consolidated this important clinical information for everyday life, whereas the reality is actually very different."

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about how alcohol can damage the brain.

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


Latest News

Crouse Hospital Appoints Chief Information Officer
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

CrouseSports Express After-Hours Ortho Care

Immediate care of orthopedic injuries in kids and adults.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >